TWO WHISTLE TORTURE.
Since rugby union went professional in 1996, they have learned, and copied, so much from rugby league.
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything substantial we have taken from their game, in that period.
Union’s vastly improved defensive techniques and structures primarily are a carbon copy of rugby league. Their running angles are from league. The cross kick to the corner is from league, as is the acrobatic dive for a try.
Rugby union now, looks, to some degree, like unlimited tackle rugby league, and that is not necessarily a blight on the 15 man game.
League is still more a collision sport. Let’s face it, some of the pick and go runs in union wouldn’t skittle a pensioner. I know. It’s all about maintaining pressure through repeat phases of play. But you get my point about the lack of a COLLISION. Yes, it is physical contact. But so is a hug, saying farewell to a loved one.
England rugby union coach, Eddie Jones has always been one to learn off rugby league. Eddie recently suggested that rugby might have to follow the NRL, and have two on-field referees.
Heaven help union if they go down this path. Imagine, if you will, French and South African whistle blowers on the field at the same time. No-one knows what is happening in union now. If there are two men calling the shots, in a game as complex as union, there could be a breakaway to form a new, simpler version of the game.
Hang on a minute. That’s been done already.
Photo 1: Unlimited tackle rugby league in England in the 1950s.
DO THE POMS HAVE THE BEST PACK?
Former Great Britain centre, Garry Schofield reckons the current England pack is the best in the world, and the Kangaroos are not keen for a Test series against the Wayne Bennett coached outfit.
Schofield, a veteran of 46 Tests, could be right in his assessment of a forward arsenal which, at its best, would include all three Burgess brothers; James Graham, Josh Hodgson Elliot Withehead, John Bateman, Sean O’Loughlin and impressive, fiery newcomer, Luke Thompson,a product of the ‘Bold Miners’ club from St Helens.
But Australian coach, Mal Meninga would like nothing more than to be involved in an old fashioned three Test series, preferably against a Great Britain side, which could see Welsh prop, Ben Flower brought in, to give the pack an even more formidable look.
Big Mal called Schofield ‘the mouth from the north’, a go-to man when the media are desperate for a sensational quote.
Schofield used his ‘League Express’ column to try to bait Meninga, but ‘Big Mal’ is used to these tricks by now, having his own newspaper column, and previously having been goaded by the likes of Tom Raudonikis and Mark Geyer.
In another ‘League Express’ column, Schofield wrote that he was stunned that Wigan forward, Joe Greenwood couldn’t get into the Gold Coast Titans’ first grade side.
“But in the NRL, they use their second rowers as battering rams,” Schofield said. “Joe isn’t that player. He likes to play on the fringes and use the ball.”
The Poms have always labelled our game as more physical, than skilful. But like union copying league, the British Super League has copied the NRL, not the other way round.
Photo: Garry Schofield, Ellery, Hanley and Lee Crooks. All deep thinkers. (Photo. Andrew Varley, Varley Picture Agency).